What Should You Expect from a Caterer Tasting?

It's time to dial in the food and beverage aspect of your big event! When “shopping” for a caterer, there are a few tips I recommend to make sure you receive all the information you need to execute a successful (and tasty!) event. You need assurance that the caterer you are about to choose is the right fit for you, so be sure to consider the following:

PRIOR to the tasting, ask your caterer:

- Do they charge for the tasting? Some caterers will only charge if you don’t choose them, as they see the tasting as an investment in getting your event.
- Do they have a “set” tasting menu? Some caterers will not charge for their standard tasting menu and then charge you if it is a custom request.
- Are you sampling the style food you plan to serve? For example, are you tasting all appetizers, yet planning a sit-down dinner? Check to see if you can sample the style of food you plan on serving.
- Be clear on your reasons for the tasting. What knowledge do you want to walk away with?

    - Food quality
    - Presentation
    - Service style
    - Signature cocktail decision
    - Various options so you can narrow down your menu choices
    - Tasting a specific theme or cultural menu to decide if the caterer can stay true to your original vision
    - Do you want to also incorporate choosing linens, china, glassware, etc. during the tasting?
    - Are you hoping to plan logistics with your event coordinator during the tasting? You may need to let them know so enough time can be set aside for going over these details

DURING the tasting:

- Be flexible. If you need reassurance about food quality, it may not be necessary to taste the exact item you want on your menu. You may be thrilled with the flavor and presentation of an item you are sampling, now, during the winter, yet are planning for a summer wedding.  Keep in mind a tomato dish in January may not be a reflection of how the dish will taste in July.

- Don’t be shy. Speak up if you don’t care for an element in the dish. You may not like the mushroom garnish and the caterer may simply change it to the artichoke garnish you love!

- Get clarification on portions presented.  Sometimes a “taste” is literally a bite and it may not be the size portion you will be served at your event. Ask if what you are seeing and tasting is the actual portion size and plate presentation.

When is a tasting not a tasting, but a catered event?  This may seem overindulgent, but some people have turned their tastings into parties for close family and friends to vote on or choose the menu for their big event.  When large numbers of people are involved or the tasting is located off-site away from the caterer’s kitchen, this essentially is an event in and of itself and the caterer may charge full price.

From Lisa Dupar Catering: We want to make sure that what you are sampling is exactly what you get the day of your event. Some things we do to ensure this happens:

- We present exactly as you will see it the day of the event - size, portion, & recipe.
We photograph the food before you taste it to ensure the presentation is the same for your event.
We take notes and make all the changes in writing with you during the tasting.
We file all the images, notes, recipes, portion sizes, etc. in your event folder for our chefs and lead servers to review up to and the day of your event

The week before the event, we review with the entire team all the specific unique details of your menu. Our goal is to offer you the complete experience, from the initial menu planning process, to the tasting, logistics, and all the little details in between.

Happy tasting!